A solid contribution to LGBTQ history—and that of civil rights generally.

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THE DEVIANT'S WAR

THE HOMOSEXUAL VS. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

An account of the decadeslong struggle for civil rights for gay people, a story that begins at the height of the Cold War.

“After World War II,” writes historian Cervini, “homosexual arrests…occurred at the rate of one every ten minutes….In sum, one million citizens found themselves persecuted by the American state for sexual deviation.” One was Franklin Edward Kameny, a budding astronomer pressed into Army service in 1943, who, come peacetime, fell in love with another man. Arrested for “lewd conduct,” he was dismissed from his civilian post with the Army Map Service in 1957. It took him years to find regular employment, time in which he advocated for gay civil rights, speaking before audiences as a member of the Mattachine Society. None other than J. Edgar Hoover took a personal role in suppressing Kameny, among many others; meanwhile, Kameny organized demonstrations against the State Department, which, according to Secretary Dean Rusk, did not “employ homosexuals knowingly, and…if we discover homosexuals in our department, we discharge them.” It would take many years—in fact, into the presidency of Barack Obama—before some of the goals Kameny advocated for were reached. Cervini is wide-ranging in his coverage of such topics as the medical classification of homosexuality as deviance and the government’s justification for not hiring gay workers for fear that they would be security risks. In the latter case, just before World War I, a gay Austro-Hungarian officer sold military secrets to the Russians, and when CIA Director Allen Dulles went to work at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, he found “everyone still whispering about the homosexual spy who had lost the First World War for the empire.” While insightful on such big-picture issues, the author also focuses on individuals who made their identities known in order to protest such misguided policies.

A solid contribution to LGBTQ history—and that of civil rights generally. (23 b/w illustrations)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-13979-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

WILLIE NELSON'S LETTERS TO AMERICA

An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician.

As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one—characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering—is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs—e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again.

Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4154-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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